Today, you’re going to learn how to explain SEO to anyone in five minutes! Is it a comprehensive, end-all, be-all example? No. Will it help someone quickly understand the basics of a complex practice? Yes. Let’s jump in. This is, after all, a five minute guide!
Starting Point: SEO is not a black box.
For context, I often hear that SEO is a “black box” and it’s anyone’s guess as to how you rank in search engines. I’m always happy to hear that! It means we have a chance to explain what SEO is really about. Google isn’t a black box. Rather, its algorithms and search engines are so complex at a large scale, it’s difficult to comprehend on a daily basis.
With introductions out of the way, here’s how you do it:
A Job Application
Consider SEO like a job application. You have a resume, references, you deal with a recruiter and a hiring manager. And you want a great career!
In SEO, you have a website, backlinks, the search engine and the user. You want to be found and loved!
Your resume is your website. You control the content and tailor the experience to each opportunity. You balance who you are and what you do.
Your website balances your brand story and products or services. You target keywords to pages of your site, just like your jobs are targeted to certain functions and skill sets.
Which resume would you choose to interview for a Marketing Director?
A. “I’m Leroy, I’m awesome. I’m really cool, I enjoy long walks on the beach and like Ethiopian food.”
B. “Kevin is a seasoned marketing professional who has managed and implemented effective marketing promgrams.”
By the same token, which website would you do business with? One with “high quality products and synergistic solutions”? Or a site that speaks in plain, compelling English?
Your references are your backlinks, or 3rd party websites linking to your own. You can influence these endorsements and relationships, but not necessarily control them. On both sides of this comparison, quality trumps quantity.
Which of the following references holds the most weight for a candidate?
A. “Little Michael is my favorite nephew, he eats a lot at Thanksgiving, you should hire him.”
B. “Jake paid me some money to recommend him. I guess he’s cool.”
C. “Ryan took our marketing department to the next level with smart strategy. He works well with the team implementing our campaigns.”
Ryan is the best choice. A bunch of low quality or fake recommendations will do a job seeker little good if not harm. By the same token, it’s better to have a few excellent backlinks than a bunch of spammy or fake endorsements.
The ultimate goal
When you’re a job seeker, interviews are great. But you really want the career! Likewise, it’s great to rank well in the search engines, but you want new, loyal customers that convert on your website.
Above all else, optimize your website for your users. The search engine results will follow.
Where to next?
That’s how to explain and understand SEO in five minutes! Obviously, there’s much, much more to learn. However, this will get you on the right path. Dive deeper into SEO with a fantastic Beginner’s Guide from Moz.